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LITTLE ROCK -- Floodwaters across Arkansas and surrounding states have receded, leaving behind damaged homes, businesses, vehicles -- and the potential for more harm to the consumer, according to a news release from the Arkansas attorney general's office.

"Consumers should use caution if they are considering purchasing a vehicle in the coming months as bad actors may be interested in lining their own pockets by selling water-damaged vehicles without disclosing the hidden damage," the release said.

"Arkansas law has safeguards in place to protect consumers from unscrupulous individuals and car dealerships," Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge said in the release. "However, many of these transactions happen as part of private sales."

The attorney general offers the following tips for Arkansans to consider before purchasing a new or used vehicle that could have been involved in flooding:

• Always ask for the vehicle's history report, such as CARFAX, before buying it.

• Ask the seller if the car has been damaged by hail or floodwaters, and always check the car's title history.

• Inspect the vehicle for water stains and mildew in the vents and behind the dashboard. Also, look under the hood for signs of oxidation.

• Flood-damaged cars may look fine because of cosmetic repairs, but they may have defective electrical systems, steering problems, faulty computers, faulty air bag systems and persistent mold problems.

• Have the car inspected by an independent mechanic before deciding to buy.

If the car has experienced significant damage and is considered a salvage vehicle, a buyer's notification should be posted, and the price should be much lower than the price of a similar car with a clean title. Consider that it may be more difficult later selling a salvage vehicle and its value will be compromised.

Consumers should review a vehicle's title for any flood damage reports, especially if it was last titled outside the state. Arkansas law requires dealerships to place a separate disclosure in the window of cars for sale that have previously been submerged, but consumers should be careful if purchasing a vehicle through a private sale. Although the private seller is required by Arkansas law to notify the buyer of any flood damage, a posted disclosure is not mandatory for this type of transaction.

Consumers who believe they have been sold a flood-damaged item that was not advertised as such should file a complaint with the attorney general's office.

For more information and tips to avoid scams and other consumer-related issues, call the attorney general's office at 800-482-8982 or email consumer@arkansasag.gov.

Society on 06/30/2019

Print Headline: Buyers beware of flood-damaged vehicles

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